I’m very good at remembering quotes, but during this difficult time I find myself mumbling inside my thoughts, with a constant headache, and not remembering authors, titles or quotations word for word as I usually do. But I’ve retained their lessons. Earlier today, I recalled the wisdom of an old woman in a story. She told a boy that he could take back an apple or a piece of dry meat, but to never try to take back his word. People might forgive you for fruit or meat, but after violating your own words they will never trust you again.
The old woman and the boy have been swimming in my mind… You see, many people are unhappy with the kind of funeral service we’ve chosen for my baby brother. I’ve heard it all: “cremation is unnatural,” “if you really loved him, you would do better…”
My brother asked to be cremated. When I was in the Marine Corps, and a will was a necessity, my family and I discussed our final wishes. My father’s wording was always the funniest, and I’m glad for it because it is making me giggle right now—thank you, Papi. He said, “I’ve lived in New York for too long, and I love the Dominican Republic. Burn me up, and spread my ashes between my two countries from a plane high in the sky.” I suggested that, perhaps, we could leave half the ashes in the US and the other half in DR, for I doubt the plane dumping would be all that safe or environmentally appropriate.
I’ve been the one taking care of my little brother’s funeral arrangements. But everybody has at least three opinions about how things must be done. Their suggestions and criticism add to the pain, the hurt, the loss… but very few seem to understand the damage they are causing. I’m thankful for my dad, my big brother, my aunts, uncles, cousins… who support the difficult decisions. I’m super grateful to my little brother’s wife who is doing all she can to make the process as easy as one can wish.
I’m glad we are all on the same page, right now. Yesterday… okay, this morning, things were beyond hazy. There was no united front to speak of. Everybody (even I) was thinking about his or her own needs. Some continue to think that way, but thank goodness they don’t matter. When things were less than clear, I told everyone that I would turn in all the paperwork and someone else would have to take care of the logistics. I just couldn’t take back my word. My brother is gone, and I know that his soul is not in the flesh that we’ll cremate. But if I was going to take care of the rituals, then I would do what he wanted or nothing. I would not support betrayal.
I was ready to mourn my little brother alone, in my own way. To let someone else live with the responsibility of having buried him in the dark he hated so much… Now, I’m at peace because I no longer have to do that. My father, my big brother, and my brother’s wife want to honor my brother’s wishes, too. I didn’t know how much I needed to do this together, until they said that we would do what he wanted. So many blessings: I get to keep my word, my baby brother is going to get his wish, and our family is not being torn apart in the process.
I thank the universe for kept promises, and for the support of Wicked loving Darlings.
“Promise is a big word. It either makes something or it breaks everything…”